Kollupitiya, one hundred and twenty five years ago, was not the residential area it is today, with broad tree-lined avenues and, the wide Galle Road running along the sea front. Kollupitiya was a village with narrow tracks, cinnamon gardens and a sparse population. It had a market place with bullock carts, horse-drawn carriage and rickshaws on its roads. It was in this village, the Methodist Mission started a Sinhala School in the early part of the 19th century.
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In 1866 a devout Missionary, Miss. Catherine Scott, came out to Ceylon and started the Kollupitiya Girl’s English School in a large room on this same spot with merely forty girls. The large room was divided into three sections – two for the Sinhala and English classes and the third for the persevering Methodist Missionary, busy learning Sinhala from a Pundit. There were no beautiful classrooms with educational aids and apparatus.
By the time Ms. Scott left in 1883, the school was registered as a ‘Grant-in-Aid’ English High School with 99 pupils and renamed Kollupitya Girls High School. With the same determination of spirit which enabled her to last 17 years in this country, she laid the foundation for this most Christian and outstanding of educational institutions.
This then was the beginning of Methodist College Colombo which today is a leading secondary collegiate school for girls with classes up to the University Entrance level. It now has a manageable student body of 1800 and a staff of 76 teachers. From these meager beginning the school has blossomed into an outstanding multi ethnic, multi religious educational institution conducting 2 streams of classes in Sinhala & Tamil with English as a strong second language.
When Ms. Choate first arrived, the school compound was quite different to what it was now. It had rather a quaint lay-out then with the old church, the rambling mission house, Boy school, a printing office, a well with brackish water used by the printing office and a bell with a roof over it, all of which do not exist today – old fashioned landmarks now vanished forever.
Almost immediately after her arrival in 1913, Ms. Park was responsible for introducing the teaching of elementary science, a step which had far reaching consequences for the institution. Impressive innovations followed. The First Colombo Guide Company was founded in 1917 by Ms. Choate and captained by Ms. Shire. In 1919 the Old Girls Association was established and this organization was developed into one that has ever since taken a keen and devoted interest in the welfare of the school. The MC OGA now has branches in London, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto and Southern California. It has played a prominent role in fund raising for the new buildings which now grace the compound.
From the Rev. Rigby came the inspiration for the first re-building programme. It was mainly due to his endeavours that some of the old building ere pulled down or adapted and the Rigby hall completed in 1916, along with a new set of classrooms. The building of a new Hostel was a dream begun by him.
His successor, the Rev. Restarick continued in his predecessor’s path and gave great encouragement to the building of the new Hostel which was finally finished and opened in 1922.
1944 was another landmark when the first Sri Lankan Mrs. L. G. Loos, an old girl whose father was a Methodist Minister, became Principal, succeeding Miss. Park.
In 1951 M.C entered the Free Education scheme as an assisted school. In this year the College was raised to A grade status and Miss Grace Robins took over as Principal on the retirement of Mrs. Loos. These were years of further expansion and around this time Framjee House on Station road was bought.
The new Science Block was opened in this period, and the Loos Building which has 10 classrooms was completed in 1977. It is a tribute to the Education Society, OGA, the PTS, Staff and Pupils that this massive task was completed. With the shifting of classrooms to the new building it was possible to provide the boarders with a reading room and library and en extra staff room. The Auditorium was declared open on June 24, 1988 by the Rev. Harold Fernando, President of the Methodist Conference.
Thus the wheel has now completed the full circle, and from its small beginnings, it has succeeded in emerging self-sufficient, proud of its achievements – yet, with enlightenment and humility – as one of the pre-eminent schools in the country.